Asking for help with postpartum depression

Asking for help isn’t easy at the best of times, and dealing with PPD can make it so much harder. Depression has a way of magnifying doubts and insecurities until they feel huge.

Still, postpartum depression isn’t a weakness, and it isn’t anyone’s fault. More than that, reaching out for help and getting support – from healthcare providers, friends, family, and your community -can be an important part of recovery from PPD.

PPD patients who have strong support systems and a low level of stress about family and relationships tend to recover more quickly, whereas isolation and lack of support can contribute to and prolong PPD.

How to ask

It’s one thing to know that it’s important to ask for help. It’s quite another to figure out the right way to do it. It’s very hard to know how many women feel they might be experiencing PPD, but don’t seek help for it. Informal surveys suggest that this number may be high.

There isn’t just one way to ask for help when it comes to PPD. All you need to do is figure out the way that’s right for you.

  • Start at home: Your partner is an important person to talk to about either the possibility of PPD or a diagnosis. They’re not the only person you might be able to talk to close to home. Parents, friends, siblings, or really anybody close to you can be great people to try to confide in. With both the high rate of PPD and the silence that surrounds it, you might even find that some of the people in your life know more about what you’re going through than you might have guessed.
  • Get a doctor’s note: When it comes to mental health concerns, especially for women who have never had mental health problems in the past, PPD can be hard to talk about as the serious health problem that it is. Talking to a doctor first, and walking out of your appointment with information about PPD, a diagnosis, and the beginning of a treatment plan can help you walk into a conversation with the people in your life with more confidence, and a better idea of what your needs might be.
  • The allure of strangers: Oftentimes, the hardest things to go through in life are also the hardest things to talk about, especially to the people closest to you. Talking to strangers, whether it’s a doctor at a walk-in clinic instead of your trustworthy primary care provider, or a PPD support group instead of your closest friends, can be freeing.

Find an advocate

Finally, the majority of women who reach out to healthcare providers, family, and friends for help with PPD are offered help and support. For a few, though, the road to getting the help they need can be rocky, and various advocacy groups have grown up to address these concerns. If you’re nervous about asking for help, talking to an advocate first, before going to your doctor, can help you feel prepared before walking into the doctor’s office.

  • Cheryl Zauderer. “Postpartum Depression: How Childbirth Educators Can Help Break the Silence.” Journal of Perinatal Education. 18(2): 23-31. Web. Spring 2009.
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